Normal Stages in Sleep For The Child Ages 4-9

Some friends and I were recently discussing older children that take an hour or so to really fall asleep.  It reminded me of some of the things I have read regarding normal sleep stages. 

Around age three is when many children start to go to bed “well”, but they may wake up in the middle of the night and walk around or play.  This night waking often disappears by age four, and it may not disturb anyone in the family, but you may find them asleep in odd places in the morning.  

Four through seven year olds typically also go to sleep well, but five year olds often have terrible nightmares and wake up screaming.  Five and a half year olds and six year olds may also have nightmares, but are usually more readily quieted and calmed than the early five year old.

Children around the age of eight  and nine especially often have a really hard time going to sleep; but eight is a lower point for nightmares.  Typically there is a rise in nightmares again around the age of nine, which decreases by age ten.

I have seen many children who had trouble sleeping from infancy on; I have also seen children that had extreme trouble in sleeping in infancy who do quite well falling asleep and sleeping through the night during their preschool years and above.  It seems to vary widely from individual to individual.  It also has seemed to me, from what I have observed, is that children who were in co-sleeping families often do not seem to go through the “hard to go to sleep phase” of eight and nine.  That has just been my experience; please leave yours in the comment box.

One thing The Gesell Institute of Human Development recommends in their writings for children who are having trouble falling asleep is to check for allergies to artificial food dyes, but also the common allergens of dairy, wheat and corn.

Nighttime fears can also play a part in a child having difficulty going to sleep.  Children can fear wild animals, robbers, the safety of the home, and many other things before they try to go to sleep.  It seems the height of this can be for an eight year old.    I don’t know as there is any one set way to respond to these fears; I think much of how one approaches this depends on the individual child.  Sometimes I think the easiest thing to do in this situation is to accept that this is only for a season and to let the older child fall asleep in the parent’s bed and then move the child to their own room.

I would love to hear your stories on this subject in the comment box.

Many blessings,


118 thoughts on “Normal Stages in Sleep For The Child Ages 4-9

  1. Carrie,
    I might also add that when my now 8 year was 5 and she was in a non-injurious car accident with my mom, she began to have a few anxieties – and the weather was one of those things (it rained during the actual accident). So, sleep became an issue if there was anything but great weather. These were real fears she had, although you couldn’t just rationalize them away. What we ended up doing is using homeopathic remedies from an anthroposophical doctor along with some therapeutic baths. After a few months, it did settle her down. Years later, she goes to sleep great. Still naps on weekends too, on her own. So, I would just highly recommend anthroposophical remedies if things are really difficult/painful for a child. Uriel Pharmacy, out of Wisconsin, carries a wonderful cream to rub on the heart, called Aurum Lavender, which we still use on occasion with our youngest now 2.

  2. My 8.5-year-old does have a difficult time falling asleep at night, and he co-slept until age two (and was always welcome in our bed in the middle of the night after that).

    My 4.5 year old dd has never slept through the night consistently. She’ll go for maybe two weeks of sleeping well, and then it’s back to nightwaking. Currently she has nightmares almost every night and has had for a good year. So from what you’ve written, I’m dreading thinking that if she’s almost five, we’ve got more of it coming!

    My sister-in-law had good success getting her dd to sleep all night by purchasing a weighted blanket (like those that are sometimes used for autistic children). It’s like a puff quilt, and the puffs are filled with some kind of beads. Her dd started sleeping through the night the very first night they used the blanket and has ever since. When the blanket is dirty and in the wash, she wakes. When she gets it back, she’s right back to sleeping. I think my niece was too young for this, as she was only about 14 months at the time they started it, and I think nightwaking is still very normal at 14 months. But I dream of getting one of those blankets for dd, just to see if it would work! The only problem is that they are very expensive.

    Between the 4-year-old, our 4-month-old baby, and the dog, my dh and I are up multiple times a night! We’re tired!

  3. Carrie, I do not have any experience with 8 year olds as my oldest is just shy of age 4, but I remember my own childhood clearly and I have always, always been a night person. Even before I can remember, my parents said as a tiny infant I wanted to stay up late and sleep in. I’ve read in various places over the years that you are either an owl or a lark, genetically, and that for the owl, it is just as difficult to rise early as it is for a lark to stay up late. (My sister is a lark and she turns into a pumpkin at about 8:45 pm, which is when my brain finally switches on!) I say this because I wonder if some kids take longer to fall asleep just because they are more of a night person. My almost 4 year old has always been a wonderful sleeper, but she could not sleep in my bed with me past about 2 months old. It woke her up often during the night, and one night I put her in her room at suppertime thinking I’d move her to my bed when she woke in (I assumed) just a couple of hours, but she slept straight through, and I realized she hadn’t been getting the rest she needed in bed with me. Ever since, she has been a champion sleeper except for one period just before she turned three when she’d turn on the light at 3 in the morning and want to play. She sleeps for 11-13 hours straight, and the most important thing we do for her is remain very, very consistent with her routine and bedtime. The variation in timing has to do with when she woke up the previous day and how much physical play/outside time she has gotten. She gave up her nap before age 2.5, though, and we really cannot LET her nap, because even a 15 minute nap will cause her to be awake 2 hours later than normal at bedtime, regardless of how tired she is or how consistent our routine! I can tell already my 6 month old is not going to sleep as well, and I WISH she would sleep well in bed with me, because I have tried and tried, but she just doesn’t sleep very well anywhere. She is very sensitive to noise, so even with white noise, you have to be very quiet once she’s asleep. I had hoped cosleeping would be a good fit, it’s just not. There is the co- part, as in, we are together, but there is not much of the sleep part! I might get a three hour block of sleep, but then when she stirs, she is WIDE awake, and we are up for two hours, whereas when she sleeps in her own bed, if she stirs, I get her right back to sleep. I continue to hope for more sleep as she grows! 🙂 I think how well a child sleeps has much to do with genetics and temperament and individual personality. We love to feel like if we do certain things, we can adjust their behavior but I am starting to believe that sometimes, it doesn’t matter what you do…that is just the way this child is.

  4. Thank you for this post. It is very helpful to know what is expected at specific ages. Our family bedshares. My two teenage sons sleep in their own beds now, of course, but my 7 year-old and 4 year-old sleep with us every night and have since birth. I have not seen these patterns in my children. In fact, I don’t recall any of my kids having any problem with nightmares. My 7 year old has started having problems going to sleep, occasionally. Maybe she is starting the 8 year pattern early?? Well, thank you for this post again! Very helpful! I would love to read a post on the number of hours each age needs and good bed times 🙂

  5. My older son just turned 4 a few weeks ago and began having a hard time going to sleep, as well, because of fear of monsters and bad guys. Previous to turning 4, we had recently implemented a new bedtime routine where instead of lying with him until he fell asleep, we only lied down with him for about 5 minutes and he would fall asleep on his own. It worked well for a couple weeks, but then the night fears really kicked in. We had implemented the new routine because I am alone with my boys so many nights while my husband is at school and it made things work out easier for us all at got the boys to bed earlier giving me time to work a little and unwind.

    So, when the big fears started I wasn’t sure our new routine would work anymore. We tried a flashlight, but that didn’t work. Then one night when it was particularly tough getting E to bed, he said he wanted to tell the monsters that they should go away. We decided to make signs right then and there and put them up. I have always told him that monsters are scared of kisses, hugs and snuggles so we made signs that said: Beware Monsters! We give hugs, we blow kisses! Then I told him he could keep his light on as long as he lied down and looked at books. I lied back down with him for a few minutes then left him to his books. It has worked wonderfully so far and he typically falls asleep within 15 minutes.

    On night wakings, E only wakes up once each night to come into our bed about midnight, then sleeps the rest of the night. He falls asleep about 9 (8 pm before the time change) and wakes about 8 or 8:30 in a wonderful mood. I feel like we have supported these great, gradual sleep habits of his because we have co-slept and worked together to guide him into his bed but still responded with sensitivity to his nighttime needs, not rushing him out of the family bed, or pushing him into anything he wasn’t ready for.

  6. Between my 4 kids, I feel like sleep patterns are all over the place in our house! My oldest 2 (now 9 and almost 7) were great sleepers from the very beginning and still are. We do have periods of bad dreams, but that has always been a rare case, especially for my 9 year old. I have noticed with him (9 yo) that he does take a while to fall asleep, but he will also sleep in if necessary to make up a bit from that. My almost 7 year old *needs* to be in bed at 7ish every night and will wake up at the same time each morning no matter what. He is my quickest to sleep child (usually within 5 minutes he is snoring). Now my 5 year old and 21 month old have very similar sleep patterns. My 5 year old had regular nigthwakings until he was about 3.5. Now is goes in spurts, but for most part, is restricted to waking to use the bathroom and then drifting back to sleep. But it takes him at least 30 minutes to fall asleep initially at bedtime. My 21 month old is still night waking as well. Although it is down to 1-2 times a night. So far, she is taking after my 3rd born.
    I have always wondered too how thumb sucking played a roll in their abilitly to fall alseep. My oldest two are thumb suckers and my youngest two are not.
    I think this is an excellent post…there are so many misconceptions regarding sleep and what is *normal*. I think if parents realized that nightwaking (for whatever the reason) is a part of normal childhood sleeping patterns, they would be more accepting of it.

  7. Thanks for this post, Carrie!
    I have a 5 1/2 y.o. and a 3 1/3 y.o. who are so different in their sleep habits. Between the two of them, I don’t think *I’ve* slept through a night since before I was ever pregnant! My daughter (after infancy) almost always went to bed well and once she was asleep wouldn’t leave her bed. My son, up until fairly recently, would often show up in my room in the middle of the night (several times) announcing happily, “I’m here to snuggle!” Sometimes it was worth the struggle to keep putting him back in his bed, and sometimes it wasn’t. As of now, both kids crawl in with us around 5AM, which is a tolerable hour, for a morning snuggle. I have tried getting up before they wake up and skipping the snuggle time to see if they would just sleep later in their own beds, but it was a no-go despite trying consistently for over a month. Frankly, I don’t like getting up before five, and I actually love our morning snuggles. So I figure I’ll enjoy it while I can, because before I know it, they’ll be teenagers who won’t want anything to do with me! 😉

    I would like to mention also, that my son has always had a harder time falling asleep. We have had a consistent bed time ritual for both kids since day one, but it’s still hard for him to settle his body down once in bed. I find that firm back rubs and leg rubs help a great deal. Also, LOTS of physical play OUTSIDE is key!

    Hope eveyone has a good night’s rest tonight!

  8. Just have to agree with you, Carrie, that parents should definitely rule out allergies! Not that allergies are the cause of all (or even most) sleep difficulties, but it is definitely worth looking into.

    Allergies are much more common these days (unfortunately), and even children of parents with no history of allergies are susceptible. Sometimes sleep trouble is the only obvious symptom. Even when allergies aren’t present, intolerances can be.

    I just wanted to affirm your point on this! Thanks for the post!

  9. my boy has had night terrors and nightmares on and off since he was about 1 1/2 but I think a great deal of it (in retrospect) was because he was too hot at night. A friend told me recently that children who are overly hot will nightmare and I have been watching for the nights my son does and I am sure she is right much of the time. There are of course some exceptions when he is particularly over tired (we avoid this as much as possible but there are the occasional birthday evening that causes havoc) but it is a hard one. He loves to be snuggled under blankets at going to sleep but then is way too hot when he is asleep. So I have to remember to go in and take layers off as soon as he is asleep and then add a few back later. I am such a warm freak that I think I really added to his nightmare issues by over dressing and wrapping him at night. My second is a very very average sleeper and it is a combination of excema and other irriations but we have tried food, etc and have a very whole food diet but have had no success. Just slowly walking the road and hope that we will both get to sleep through the night one day. co sleeping helps us both but especially me as I get so exhausted.
    I always say to other mothers – you don’t expect your baby to walk when they are six months or eat by themselves when they are 9 months or talk conversationally when they are 1 and so on and so on – so why in the world would you expect them to sleep like an adult before they are ready to? Is it for your convenience or theirs???
    Love a sleep post – thanks!
    ps my post on meditation when doing things you dislike came from my frustration with getting my smallest to sleep – let me know what you think…

  10. Oh my goodness. I don’t have any grand stories to share, but THANK YOU for this. My oldest will be five in September, and she has never been a GREAT sleeper. She wants to know what everyone is doing, and where they are, and will frequently come and “check” on us. It used to be an hour-long (nightly!) struggle to get her to stay in her room, but now she checks on us three times…or once…or not at all. She goes to sleep with her bedside light on, looking at books, with her door wide open so she can hear us.

    What floored my friends, when we talked about sleeping issues, though, is that my four year old still doesn’t consistently sleep through the night. Even as an infant, I would finally get her sleeping through the night…and then she would get a cold, or a new tooth, or a nightmare, and we’d be back to getting up to her cries once to three times a night.

    Now, she knows the drill. She wakes up, she opens her door (we shut off the lights and close the door after she’s asleep) and walks down the hall. She quietly comes into our room (the door wakes me up) and she stands silently next to me. I get up, hold her hand, put her back in bed, kiss her head, and go back to bed myself. That’s all she wants. It takes 30 seconds and sometimes, if I had a particularly late night, I don’t even remember it in the morning.

    However, none of my friends have dealt with this. There are no nightmares, she isn’t hungry. She’s just awake, and she wants mama to acknowledge it!

  11. Thanks so much for your wonderful wonderful blog!!

    I have been perusing the archives for posts on sleep, and one of the phrases that struck me was “parenting your child to sleep.” I agree the approaches to this will depend on the individual child, but I’m wondering if you have any posts that discuss ideas and strategies for parenting children to sleep when your child seems to resist sleeping — something to get me thinking of ways to move us forward.

    A bit of context: My daughter is 4 (almost 5). Ever since she was able to “cruise” (8 months), she has not had an easy time falling asleep. It seems to me that some of it that she has trouble “turning off her brain.” And I imagine anxiety is playing a role as well (she lost her father to cancer fairly recently, as I mentioned in a previous comment). Both kids know they are more than welcome to sleep in my bed, and she sometimes does end up there but not always. I have tried rubbing her back and singing to her, but often she is not ready (it’s almost as if her body has to be settled already for her to want/respond to this). I’ve tried lullabies and even calming/meditative books on CD. She is already reading and will read quietly even after “lights out” (she pushes the curtains back and reads by the light of the street lamp outside her window). I think this helps calm her, but it is not sleep and her body needs sleep.

    • Thank you Grateful! I am so glad you are here, and my deepest sympathies on the loss of your husband. I can only imagine how difficult this must be.
      I wonder if for a bit you could take the pressure off of sleeping — if she stays in bed, could you knit or fold laundry or something repetitve like that in her room by a candle? You could tell her a small repetitive story that you make up and then fold or knit and hum a lullaby. Very sleepy storytelling, very different than daytime storytelling.
      I also wonder if the bedtime routine is too long, if you give her a bath at night and if the bath actually needs to be in the morning instead if that ramps her up, if there is something sensory going on (seams, fabric of her nightgown or sheets), how visually minimal her room is (less stuff equals better sleep). I also wonder if you are missing her sleep window. If she no longer naps and is busy working and in nature all day, she may be ready to wind down as early as 6:30.
      I also wonder after all this if she would benefit being supported homeopathically by a qualified practitioner. I am a big user of homeopathic medicines and flower essences and that sort of things when something is really off with my children — I don’t know if this is in your budget, but I wonder if that could be helpful.
      Many blessings,

  12. Thank you for your sympathies, and thank you for your fabulous suggestions. They are incredibly helpful.

    I am so glad I discovered this blog! I love your approach.


    • And Grateful, look for a post on this because at least in the Northern Hemisphere, this is the season for sleeping trouble with the longer days…
      Many blessings,

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  15. I just found this blog, but have found it extremely helpful to know I am not the only one that has sleeping problems with their child. My son is about to turn 5 and since his 3rd birthday I think I can count on one hand how many times he has slept the entire night in is bed. As a baby he slept perfectly and would sleep 12-15 hours plus naps. As soon as I put him in a toddler bed he started to wake up and come in. I tried the whole stay strong routine of waking up and putting him back in bed without saying anything, etc, etc. But he would continue to wake up and come in and wake me up sometimes every 30 minutes to an hour. I was so tired all the time I had no patience, and no energy to do anything. My son was tired throughout the day and tantrums began to pick up. So I just gave up and have been allowing him to sleep in my bed when he gets up. I always put him to sleep in his bed, but I know between midnight and 2am he will be coming in. And honestly I wouldn’t care but he always has to have his feet under my legs and he is a mover and constantly kicking and tossing around which wakes me up, and I feel like he doesn’t get as good as sleep as he should. Some days he wakes up so cranky and he is normally exhausted by 3 but refuses to take a nap, and then by 6 he gets that last bit of energy and is jumping off the walls and not listening and super hyper. Of course i am exhausted by this point and can feel my patience thinning. I just want both of us to be able to get good sleep at night and be rested for the whole day. What time should my soon to be 5 year old be going to bed? (gets up at 7 or 7:30 for school) And how many hours should he be getting? Is there anything I can do to keep him in his bed, and will this phase ever go away? I really don’t want a 12 yr old sleeping in my bed. Please help, I am desperate. I almost took my son to a sleep expert to monitor him and help me discover why he wakes up EVERY night!!!!

    • Dear Jennifer,
      I am sorry you are experiencing all that. I find many cosleeping children do not seem to sleep through the night consistently in their own beds without coming in until around 8 or 9, just from talking with families. I am no medical sleep expert! Does your son have allergies or issues with breathing at all? I have talked to many parents who said reflux, allergies, large adenoids where the child could not breathe well were all culprits in their child’s waking. Many five year olds who don’t nap are poised for an early bedtime of 6:30 or 7.

      I think speaking with your pediatrician to rule out any medical causes is important. Looking at overall diet, rhythm of the home, amount of time outside and amount of time spent looking at screens can also all provide helpful clues.

      If you truly think it is something behavioral, some parents have had luck with making their child a little nest (sleeping bag, cot, nest of blankets, futon in room or placing all mattresses on the floor and placing, for example, a single mattress next to their king mattress) and seeing if the baby bird who has gotten a little big can sleep in their own nest near the mommy bird but not in the same nest. 🙂

      I am happy you are here!
      Many blessings,

    • So I have a question!!! In your post I see where your lo wants to have his feet under you when he sleeps. MY TODDLER IS DOING THE SAME THING!!! He has to have his feet completely under me and he puts his hands behind his back (as if he was under arrest)! That’s the only way he can fall asleep. Do you know anything about this? I can’t find anything out about it on the internet..!


    • In regards to Jamie’s question – i have the same question! My toddler is 2.5 years old and falls asleep in our bed, and we move him to his bed but by 3a.m he is back in bed next to me, and he shoves his feet under me – under my legs, hips, back, etc. whatever he can!! He then winds his hands in my nightgown or shoves them under me too, usually around the armpit, arms, or even breast area of my chest. Is this a strange comfort technique? Should I discourage? Why does he do this? Mostly it’s not a problem, but I am curious if you have any knowledge on this.

      Glad I stumbled across your blog!

    • Hi Candace,
      I don’t think that is uncommon behavior at all. Two and a half is very, very little. Warmth and security at night really is a want and a need at that tiny age. The feet are something I hear about from nearly all co-sleeping parents. If you don’t like his hands, some co-sleeping mothers have used a nightgown or pajamas that are harder to get “under” or even encourage a small stuffed toy they can wrap their hands around instead.
      Many blessings! Glad you are here!

  16. My four year old daughter has her days and nights mixed up. She has slept with me since birth. I don’t have a problem with the co-slumber. She wants to watch television all night long and she will stay awake until 4am-7am and then sleep until 4pm-5pm. I am conserned about her because she will be starting school next year. if this sleeping pattern doesn’t change i will have to home school her. the problem I have is that she isn’t quietly watching television she wakes me up wanting me to stay up with her. she follows me to the bathroom and at times is glued to me during her awake times. if we turn the television off and tell her to go to sleep she crys so hard that she pukes and has an asthma attack. Me and my husband are sleepy and at our wits end. what do we do?

    • Rebecca,
      I truly feel for your situation and wish I could offer more via Internet, but I believe based upon your situation, the best answer is to consult your pediatrician and health care team in person. They may refer you all on to a sleep team, and the sleep team may have a psychologist who could help you deal with some of the behavioral aspects of this situation. I have to say this is an unusual situation, and one again, I feel would be best addressed by a real life, in person consultation by a health care team. There is a psychological and behavioral component, in addition to the physiological aspects of sleep. One thing that may be helpful is to get out during the daytime and get more general movement and exercise in, but even that may need to be approached carefully and in stages according to what your health care team says. I don’t know where you are located, but I know James Mckenna has a wonderful sleep lab (U of Notre Dame). Boundaries are very important in child-rearing, and I think a team approach may help your family best. Thank you for writing into me, and I hope you find other posts that are helpful to you on this site.

      Many blessings,

  17. Hi, I have found this site really helpful as I have a four year old who has never really been a good sleeper despite having a consistent bedtime routine. However it is getting worse, He is afraid of everything and anything even during the day. although he falls asleep with no argument (providing I sit near him for 10 mins or so) he wakes lots overnight. My big problem is he doesn’t vocalise why he has woken and what the problem is! It’s very easy to think he is messing me around and playing up which is causing arguments overnight, however I’m now not sure this is the case! I am considering letting him come into bed with us when he wakes, however, this is something that I have always been told is a complete ‘no no’. I would love some advise on how once I have started letting him stay in our bed I will actually get him back to his own bed in the future?? To make it all the more complicated I have a newborn currently in the bedroom with us. Any advise on how I can make co-sleeping successful and ensure that I will be able to make the transition back would be much appreciated as we are all exhausted especially my little boy, it is beginning to impact on his behaviour and he can be very naughty. Thanks x

    • Hi Lucy.. I just found this site and wanted to reply to your message. We have a 4 year old and a 7 month old. He don’t understand either why she gets to sleep in our room and he cant. We got him out of sleepin in our bed around 2 years old and up until we had our youngest little girl he started sneaking in our room in the middle of the night. When we move her to her crib, which is gonna be VERY soon, we are going to work with him again to maybe not want to sleep in there. He does try to sleep in there every night, i just explain to him that he did same thing when he was a baby and he started sleepin on his own. It took a while but he finally acted as if he understood. I see it’s been hard on you!! Hope it gets better for you soon. I have recently been told that a child sleeping with you is a good thing because he/she will always feel safe and when there older they will get old enough to understand why they cant sleep in our room anymore. We have never heard that before at all. Always been told like you its a ‘big NO NO!’ When we had to get him out of sleeping in our bed at 2 years old, it took about a week but he cried for a while every night and I hated it but it worked after about 8-9 days and he started sleeping every night in his bed. GOOD LUCK!!!

  18. Our 4 year old son wakes up every day and night when he goes to sleep after about 20-45 minutes crying. 90% of the time he is crying saying “I want you mommy.” or he thinks someone else is here that might have been here a while before he even went to sleep but left. Then he will ask what there doing over there, pointing over to the opposite side of room. He has always came in our bedroom in the middle of the night with me and my husband. Let me also say I am his stepmom.. I have been in his life since he was about 8 months old. His mom left him and has had little to do with him since. She just recently got temporary custody back about 3 months ago every other wknd and every wed night. He is having a hard time because she is filling his head with a bunch of lies trying to get him against me and his daddy. He is very scared around her and expresses a lot of anger around her when she comes to get him as well. He has always called me mommy since i’ve been around. I just feel so bad for him because we are going through so many changes in his behavior and mental state because of all the issues he’s being surrounded by now that she’s back in his life. I just want to know if there’s anything we can do to settle him down when he wakes up like this or some advice on what to do?? Me and my husband always assure him we love him and right beside him but it takes him a minute then he don’t want us to leave once he gets back to his normal state.

  19. Hello, I’m glad I’m not he only one going through this and grateful there are plenty of solutions I find quite useful. I have a 4 year old boy who will be 5 next May, he went through the crib-bed changing process without any problems, I never let him sleep on my bed unless his daddy was working late. He has been a good sleeper and I must say its just like this father, they both are able to sleep easily (sooo jealous). Usually he goes to sleep by 9pm while watching some cartoons next to me therefore I bring him to his bed afterwards (I have been doing that for a very long time without problems) until about a month now, he just started JK this past September and the first month he slept through the night but now he usually wakes up sometimes around 2,4am,he just calls me and he wants me to lie down with him until he falls asleep; sometimes I’ve noticed he falls asleep quick and there are other times when I’m about to leave his room and he calls me again, for example last night he called me around 5am so I went to his bed and lied with him and he didn’t fully sleep until the time he had to get up for school.
    I have talked to him about him having nightmares, he has mentioned about ghosts and I have told him that ghosts left the house already and even when i ask him again why he wakes up he just avoids the question. I’m wondering if he might have some anxiety because of school because i have observed him and he doesnt seem to be distant, quiet or just playing on his own, he acts ilke always, asking me to help him read his books, watching his shows, etc.
    I will start leaving the night light on and train him on going to the toliet at night if he needs to but I hope its just a stage.

    • Dora, How much physical activity is he getting after school? That can really be a deal breaker for many five year old little boys.
      Also, some children’s sleep becomes affected by media time, so you may consider limiting his screen time in favor for physical activity and see if that helps.
      Many blessings,

    • My son would always wake up at 11 and 2 be used he Celt the urge to go to the bathroom. I just ignored him and he would go back to sleep. I tried to get him up go go but he would argue half asleep. It stopped when he was completely night trained.

  20. I have a five year old son. He has always been an excessive sleeper. 10 hours a night with a 4 hour nap. If you tried to wake him up he would scream for 10 minutes. He was having issues in preschool. His Dr. Diagnosed him with sleep apnea. His tonsils and adnoides were removed. He slept better and gained 15 lbs in 3 months. Now in kindergarten he is having different issues they have diagnosed him with adhd . I see the behavior they are con earned about but I also see him crashing 3 hours after school. He will sleep 14 hours a night now. Could his hyperactivity and concentration be contributed to a sleep inbalance and not ADHD.

  21. I have 2 4 year old twins that get up every night from 12 to 3 and get onto everything in the kitchen and if they can’t get stuff then it’s whatever they can..any ideas why our how to make out stop?

    • Dear Monica,
      1. Make sure they have had a physical exam to rule out anything physical as to why they would be waking for such a prolonged period.
      2. Check their diet — no sugar, no processed foods.
      3. How much physical exercise are they getting? They should be tired at night, and many four year olds need two to four hours or more of outside time and no to very little time in front of a computer, screen, etc.
      4. Are they going for food or just to make a mess? You may need to put a lock on the refrigerator, a gate on the kitchen or their bedroom.
      5. Can they sleep in your room or you sleep in their room so you can catch them right as they wake up and are headed out the bedroom door?
      6. Are they still napping? It may be time to give up naps if they are waking up at such a time in the night.

      Just a few thoughts, please do speak with your physician.

  22. My child is eight and started having real trouble getting to sleep after previously being fine due to fears of noises Etc. I cracked her going in her own bed by reading stories and putting on stories audio CDs for her to go to sleep to with regular checks by me. But for the last month I have woke every morning to fine her in my bed. She doesn’t wake me so I can’t take her back to her room when she does it. I am a single parent so it doesn’t cause any issues with the bed. I am out of ideas what to do. Any suggestions.

    • Julie,
      You probably won’t like my answer, but I would just let it be. Eight can often be on the verge of the nine year change in which a child is developmentally awakening and seeing the world in a more individual manner than ever. It can be a real fragile and shaky time. I suggest reading the posts on the nine year old from the Development tab in the header box on this blog and see if any of that resonates.


  23. Hi carrie

    I have a 4 year old, who has always slept well and gone to bed when told, lately she doesn’t want o sleep in her bed as she has bad dreams. I’m confused

    Regards linda

    • Linda,
      Has she had any major changes lately in her routine, what she does during the day? Four year olds also need quite a bit of physical movement, is she really running, moving, swimming?


  24. So my daughter turned 8 in april and for about two months now shes been getting up at night saying she is itchy she has nightmares but cant tell me what there about she gets frustrated cause she isnt sleeping shes cranky through the day i assume lack of sleep its frustrating cause do i let her sleep with me how doni handle this she has always slept alone pit herself to sleep i mean id tuck her in but never had issues with sleep till now

  25. Pingback: Normal Stages Of Sleep For The Child Ages 8-12 | The Parenting Passageway

  26. I’d love some discussion on bed wetting (urinating at night) because my almost 7 year old doesn’t wake up to pee. I had her in pullups until this summer and now the routine involves me getting her up to go pee and I’m thinking about trying to set a timer so she can get up without my help. She doesn’t want to use the expensive alarm that has a sensor worn in the underwear because the noise that the thing makes sounds too loud and annoying like police siren. I’m hoping that if I just keep at it, maybe over several months and especially when school starts in the fall she will get into more routines and begin to wake up to go pee on her own. But, if she is sleeping so deeply as to not wake up (my sister had this same issue for which a pill was prescribed) will any of my efforts ever pay off? Or will she just have to be “manually” awakened. Does anyone have info about the sleep cycles during the night and when are the best times to be waking her up to pee?

    • Rachel,
      I don’t know how you feel about homeopathy or cranial sacral work, but I have heard of mothers with older children who wet their beds who had success in going those routes.
      Hope other mothers will chime in here!

    • I had troubles with my son not getting up to go to the bathroom, I limited how much he could drink before bed and after he brushes he teeth he goes to the bathroom, then bed. Sure enough if he does not go before bed he wets the bed.

    • They grow out of it! I have heard many people lament over this issue. Some try to blame or analyze. Some want to medicate and counsel. Some want to set alarms and reduce liquids. I come from4 generations with this problem. They will grow out of it but it could take time . Do not punish or shame. I remind my children that everyone has problems .

  27. I have a six year old son who gets up a few times a night talking about he scared a month ago he said he was seeing a woman now he still gets up at night but says he is not scraed but screams mom i need you help what do i do thanks

    • Carmen,
      All you can do is the basics = make sure he has a low or no amount of screen time, whole foods with low sugar, lots of outside activity, keep to a steady calming bedtime routine and comfort him when he has the nightmares. It is phase, it will get better.

  28. I have a four year old son, we do not watch scary movies, and he sticks to the same routine eight O’clock bath, nine bed. After his bath he gets “rest time” he gets to watch magic school bus and have a small snack. We eat dinner as a family, and both parents tuck him in. He has nightmares almost every night and is afraid to sleep alone, I have gone as far as buying him tons of new security items, using a dream catcher, trying to talk about dreams, to my newest idea, a stuffed animal that use to have a heat pack, we write what he would like to dream about talk about it for a little then he hugs it tight. It is still no help, I will admit he is very smart for his age to the point of knowing what is real and what is not, he will point out why it is not real, but nightmares are not something we can shake. The longest he has slept alone with out issues, is five days. Any Ideas? Suggestions?

    • Samantha,
      I think that is pretty normal for that age. I know that is probably not what you want to hear, but I do think it will pass…Four is really little. I would say one thing to try is to replace the TV time with reading a slow, repetitious story like Henny Penny, the Three Bears, or a small nature tale that is gentle and sweet…Some children seem to have disturbed sleep patterns with TV before bed. I have several articles on this site about media and small children if you are interested in those.

      Just know you are not alone!

  29. My 5 and a half year old has only slept through the night a handful of times. Me and my husband are very tired and frustrated. He wakes up anything from 1-4 times a night. Sometimes it’s for a drink of water or need to use the toilet and other times there is no reason. We just lead him back to his bed but if it occurs from 6am we accept him in our bed. We read books for him to fall asleep. We have tried a dark room, night light, door open, door shut, reward chart and nothing seems to help. If there is a adult sleeping in his room he still wakes up but less often. What else can we try?

    • Nilou – This is a back post on bedtime, but has a lot of links toward the bottom that could be helpful:
      Some children really don’t sleep well through the night until age 9 or so, but I wondered if you had discussed this with your pediatrician. Sometimes there are food allergies or other medical issues going on, so I always think that is the first place to start.
      Hope things improve,

  30. We were in a bad car accident back in Aug. of 2012. My husband, myself and my then 7 year old were hurt. Long story short a young driver cut us off being negligent. My then 7 year old daughter received a nasty facial laceration from across the top of the eye across the forehead to the other other eye. She was stitched up (unfortunately by an ER doc) and then in May 2013 had her first scar revision. The scar revision didn’t work well because at her age the skins goes into overload in healing and the scar is thick. She has to have another scar revision around age 16 or 17 when growing is done. She started to experience night terrors soon after the accident, sometimes waking 3 or 4 times a night screaming for me. Since then she had another episode when she was about 5, she was disoriented and had the shakes really bad. It scared me because I could see her trembling/shaking. I finally got her calmed down and put her to bed. I called her Ped. and they told me that it was a type of night terror and that they cause anxiety. Well now for the past month (she is now just 9) she has been falling asleep looking exhausted on the couch etc. or even in her own bed sometimes. I hate to admit it but we have three playing softball right now and no help from family, so they kids are up late and eating later than I would like them too. This particular child looses her appetite and I have to help her eat. Anyway, she has been waking up on and off only once a night,( usually right after she lays her head on her pillow to sleep), a little disoriented, telling me how she feels shaky, but still talking to me with the shakes and says she feels kind of yucky and she says she feels worried which makes her heart race a little because she is clearly upset. She doesn’t freak out or scream she just seems worried and really tired. She said that she has anxiety because she is afraid that it will lead to throwing up which she absolutely hates, not many of us like it, but she is terrified about throwing up. She is rarely sick, extremely rarely, and these episodes never lead to throwing up. It’s not every night and maybe this has happened twice or three times in the last two weeks. Last night (about 9:30 pm) she yelled for me in her bed and said she was shaking a little, I am not sure if she had fallen asleep yet and she can’t remember. She came in my bed and the shaking slowly stopped and she was so tired, her eyes show her tiredness so well. Last night her shakiness wasn’t that bad. She got up this morning just fine, but said she was tired of feeling like that at night. She never does this during the day, it’s always in this tired state at night, where she can’t remember if she fell asleep or coming up the stairs to brush her teeth, but she remembers bits and pieces. Her Ped wants me to watch this and maybe do blood work. I really feel it’s strange that it’s only at night when she is dead tired and arouses from sleep quickly for some reason. I have one daughter just diagnosed with seizures after suddenly having a grand mal. She is on meds and doing fine now. I really don’t think I want to subject this child to a bunch of tests. This is only happening in the sleep state. Help.

    • Hi Lori,
      I am so sorry for your accident and your daughter’s sleeping challenges. That sounds stressful indeed. I am glad you are working with your pediatrician because this was this first thing I was wondering -what did your family physician or pediatrician have to say about this? Do you think this is related to the accident and coming out as anxiety or post traumatic stress from the accident? Did she have a concussion from the accident? Has she had any care from a medical professional who specializes in anxiety? Your description of shakiness also made me wonder if she has had a physical exam lately checking simple things like blood sugars.
      It may help to keep a log as well – what did she eat, how much water she drank, what time did she go to bed, how many hours she slept, how she seemed when she woke up.
      If you do think this is seizure related, you really do have to have it checked out by a health care professional Even if these are small seizures, they are still damaging and since seizure disorder runs in the family, that would be a logical thing to rule out.
      The other route I could think of was seeing a chiropractor who could do chiropractic adjustments and perhaps also some craniosacral work. Sometimes these treatments are covered by insurance and sometimes not, so I don’t know if that is feasible or not.
      I think one thing that could help is having a very set routine to bedtime. After dinner, there is a bath in Epsom salts (available in any drugstore). There could be a soothing warm drink – some parents do an herbal tea or a milk with honey in it, a soothing bedtime story and someone lays down with her. It sounds like she just needs some extra support right now getting ready for bed and transitioning into sleep – no matter what is really going on physically that could be causing it, which only a physician can diagnose and treat.
      Is she playing softball as well? Do you think she is drinking enough during the practice and games and before she goes to bed? That could be another piece and a log would help determine that.
      One book geared toward younger children but has great ideas for bedtime is “The 7 o’clock bedtime”. You may want to hunt for that at your local library or used. I think it could be a read to give you ideas.
      A solid routine, a really tight bedtime and you being present with her as she falls asleep, a regular wake up time should really help you determine what is going on…
      Please let me know how things go. I will be thinking of you all.
      Many blessings,

  31. I wish I could edit my post. I meant to say my daughter had an episode when she was 5 (even before the accident) when she woke up once with the shakes and disoriented.

  32. June 29 2014, my daughter well be 8 year’s old on December 14th and she Wake up in the middle of the night to raid the frige and I’m worried this can be a problem in latter year’s what can I do my name is jessica

    • Dear Jessica,
      I agree with you that this is problematic. Is she eating whole, healthy foods during the day? Drinking enough? WHat does your family physician or pediatrician say? I would start with a good health check up at the pediatrician, talk about food choices and how much and what foods your daughter is eating (keep a food journal where you write down everything she eats for three days), and discuss that with your pediatrician. I would also offer a healthy snack right before bed – warm milk with honey, a banana, a piece of toast or something that fits into your family’s dietary choices.
      Hope that helps! Thank you for being here,

  33. My 20 month old grandson asks us to go to bed when he is tired at night – nanny night night now, he asks for his bath, brings his pyjamas, has a cuddle and lies in his cot and goes straight to sleep, waking up,at 7 the following morning is that normal?

    • Dear Jules,
      If in doubt, talk to your family physician or pediatrician. Some children are just good sleepers!

  34. My daughter nine year old today said to me” that for some time (may be for few months) she is experiencing strange thoughts. The feeling she said is not good and worse than a nauseating feeling. The strange feeling will come and instantly go away, the feeling stays only for a few seconds. I asked her to describe in more detail. she said that it is very difficult to describe but said further that once she felt that she imagined a big green field and man with covered face walking over it. Then the feeling moved away.
    I think that this could be nothing as a lot of things go through a childs mind everyday. such as schools, books, homework etc etc. its her imagination and would go away as time passes. My elder daughter also said similar things few times when she was 8 year old.
    did anybody experience anything like this?? would appreciate any information from your side.

  35. Hi everyone,

    My daughter is 8 almost 9 and for the past month we are going through hell with her at night. She has never had a issue sleeping, we were very lucky with her. at 3 weeks she has slept through the night for 12hrs and has ever since, until now. She goes to sleep fairly well but wakes up every night and can’t get back to sleep. She comes into our room and says ” I can’t sleep” when we tell her that she was sleeping well she says ” she was never asleep” ( when she was ) it’s almost as if she has no memory of ever being asleep. It is never good enough for her to just go back to her room and lie there ( it’s almost as if she wants everyone up)

    I have talked with her teacher to find out if anything is going on at school, I though it might be puberty, also I know she is getting molars coming in.

    We are so frustrated especially since we have never had to deal with sleeping issues with her.

    If anyone has any ideas please let me know.

    • Crystal,
      I am guessing it is molar pain that is just enough to wake her up. I bet as soon as those pop through you will have a sleeping child again!
      The other thing I always say though, is to please make sure all of our children are getting enough movement, play and physical activity during the day. We are turning into a rather sedentary society for children compared to past generations and our bodies were meant to move, which really helps us sleep at night!
      Blessings, and thank you for being here –

  36. Thank You Carrie, I really hope your right. Also, I fully agree with you on activity with children, parents are to paranoid to let their children outside and to lazy to go out with them.

  37. My girl is 9 nw and since a baby I’ve had trouble with her sleeping at nyt wnt go sleep or she goes sleep early n then wakes after 2-3 hrs this is not norm I thought it was coz of epilepsy but am really nt sure nw its concerning as now she tired at school then goes sleep wen gets home any advice plz struggling with it all

    • Chris – have you talked to her physician? Is she on meds for epilepsy? If she is tired at school and falling asleep during the day, the physicians may want to send her to a sleep lab or look at side effects of her medications if she is on any for her seizures. I would put a call into her physician and discuss what is going on.

  38. My daughter just turned 5 and has begun having an extreme fear of bad guys and monsters. Before I go into detail about her issue and what I’ve tried so far to help ease this fear I want to first let you know that she had a pretty rough year in 2014.

    Her father and I separated on January 1, 2014 (now divorced). She had a very difficult time coping with the separation but slowly started getting back to her usual happy self around August. Since the divorce I have started dating someone who has two little girls of his own (who are unfortunately only with us every other weekend) and is an excellent father. He is very good to my daughter and she loves him very much. Although she loves him I know how difficult it can be for a child her age (or any age really) to adjust to a blended family.

    In addition, her father started dating another woman shortly after we separated. Her father recently got engaged which seems to upset my daughter quite a bit. My daughter has told me that she doesn’t want her dad to marry the other woman and that the other woman isn’t very nice to her any more.

    Another big factor, in my opinion, that is adding to this newfound fear is a few months ago my dad passed away. My daughter was very close to my dad and she took his passing very hard. There are a lot of different ways I have helped her through the grieving process including taking her to see a child psychologist.

    Now that you have some of the backstory leading up to the current issues I have done quite a bit of research on this subject and understand that developing this particular fear at this age is common. I have read many scholar articles and blogs to come up with new ideas to help her through this phase but nothing seems to help completely.

    I make sure my daughter has a good bedtime routine with very little tv in the evening. She eats well, we read calming, happy bedtime stories, she has a lot of physical activity throughout the day and in the evening. I make sure that we have mommy/daughter play time so she knows that I love her and she doesn’t have to worry about me leaving her. She knows that she can talk to me about anything and when she does talk to me I make the time calming and casual so she doesn’t feel pressured or afraid to talk to me.

    The fear has subsided a little but still has a negative effect on our daily lives. The fears used to be during the day even while I was sitting beside her. Any noise she heard was a bad guy or monster. Now she is able to play happily during the day as long as I’m in the same room as her or at least on the same level of our house but the nightmares and frequent waking haven’t subsided at all.

    We have talked through the fear or bad thought and redirected the thought to a happy one, we have created monster/bad guy spray (which does help a little), I stay with her until she falls asleep and I let her decide if she wants the hallway light on or off and how much her door is open/closed.

    She goes to sleep well but usually wakes up between 1 and 4 am. I usually walk her back to her room and stay with her until she falls asleep but she often wakes up again an hour or so later at which time is let her get in bed with me due to the fact that we are both exhausted.

    It breaks my heart to see my baby girl struggle this way so I am open to suggestions to help her get through this phase a little easier/quicker. Any advice you (or any readers) may have will be greatly appreciated. Thank you!!

    • Anonymous,
      I know many children who STILL come into their parents’ room in the night and slide in with them until they are around the age of 9 or 9 and a half. And these are children who do not have added stressors. I can understand how you feel worried and want to support her. I think you have done everything any other parent would do in that circumstance and I think right now she just needs more support at night. Her world has changed very quickly in the past year and she just needs that extra security at night right now. It won’t last forever.
      The only other thing I could think of is something like white noise, or some mothers have told me that a combination of essential oils rubbed on the feet helped. You could research that through one of the essential oil companies.
      But honestly, give yourself and her a big hug and lots of love. This has been a challenging past year to say the least, so I think you will see a big improvement just with the tincture of time.
      Blessings, glad you are here reading – Carrie PS. If you look at “Development” in the header on the home page of this blog and click it, from the drop down menu you can see many posts about the developmental stage of the five year old and those could be helpful as well. Hugs.

  39. My five year old daughter has recently started waking up in the night and crying an flicking for all she is worth. She won’t calm down and continue kicking and screaming for 30 minutes before finally galling asleep. She does this three to four times a night and needless to say its disrupting everyone’s sleep. She shares a room with my 10 year old daughter and her sleep is broken as well. I just don’t know what to do .

    A very sleep deprived mother

    • Dear Shahena,
      Could it be night terrors? Sounds like it could be, especially if they happen the same times every night. This link might be helpful:
      Since night terrors are related to being overtired, you may wish to try developing soothing nighttime rituals and putting her to bed earlier. Many five year olds are primed to go to sleep by 7 PM each night if they are awake by 7 in the morning.
      Hope that helps, and I hope you all get some sleep!

  40. Hi,my 8 1/2 yr old daughter been sleeping fine since she was a baby ,she shares a room with her brother .but about a 2 months a go she started crying before sleeping saying she scared ,she feels something bad might happened , i made her sleep in my bed because that made her feel better and started sleeping good when she’s with me. but now i want her to sleep in her on bed she went back again and started the crying and want me to sleep with her all night.if i told her okay i’ll sleep with you when i finsh my work she sleeps good even thought i don’t sleep with her( i lie ).if i tell her you have to try to sleep on your owen she crys and won’t sleep on her own. i don’t know what to do with her and if this is normal and how can i help her get better

    • Mary,
      I don’t think this is that uncommon for a sensitive eight and a half year old…would a mattress or sleeping bag on your floor work for both of you?
      I think honoring this feeling is okay, and to be sensitive to her needs.
      Blessings, and thank you for being here!

  41. hi this is mary again ,i have forgot to mention that my 81/2 yrs daughter is very sensitive ,she say i feel bad that i got you tired or upset you ,i didn’t mean to and she apologize and cry more and i ask her why your crying she says because i;m doing this. during the day she’s fine . thankyou,

  42. Hi. Id like to know if what I’m doing is bad or harming my kids or my sleep. My husband works nights 5 days aweek and my 8 year old and 12 sleep with me (king size bed) those 5 nights. We all feel safer. However, some nights i get woken up alot by accidently slaps and kicks because my 8 year old tosses and kicks all night. What can you recommend?

    • Beatriz,
      I think as long as everyone follows the “safe cosleeping” recommendations, I don’t see a problem. If you can place a long pillow between you and your 8 year old, you may get kicked less. If you get tired of it at some point, then your 8 and 12 year old could always sleep on a mattress on the floor or sleeping bags on the floor. Lots of options!

  43. Pingback: The Normal Stages of Sleep For Children | The Parenting Passageway

  44. love your blog Carrie. Thanks so much for sharing all that you do !
    As I read through it I was thinking how do you know my 8 yr old son is going through this – he is often concerned about safety of our new home , often asks if this place is secure and also at times have nightmares.
    Good thing that I learnt is that its just a phase – and glad that you shared this informaiton !
    Thanks again.

  45. hello, my son is just now eight. When he was an infant he slept very well. it was awesome. the last few years have been rough. we read every night and we have done so since he was a baby, reading or singing every night. For a year or so we use to have to sit on his room floor and wait for him to fall asleep. then he started going to bed alone good as long as we checked him every 5-10 min till he was out. and it would go on like that for a very long time then all of sudden he doesnt want to sleep alone so we sit with him till fall asleep for a few days and go back to old routine and he would be good for a long time again, than bam he doesnt want to be left alone again… well like i said he is eight now and hes starting this i put him to bed, read or sing and go to leave room and he starts crying hysterically, says i want my daddy (daddy has worked nights most of his life) or i dont want yo be alone. And if i try to talk him calm he continues to cry and when he hears the frustration in my voice (and im not yelling) he gets louder and i tell him ill be back to check him and turn off light and start to walk out he cries louder and tells me im mean. Then we are back to i want daddy and dont leave me alone. I dont know why he is doing this and some nights its bad where he is in bed from 8pm to 12am wide awake on and off crying and daddy gets home and he continues then daddy gives in to sitting with again.any thoughts of things that could help?

  46. My 4 year old has had issues with nightmares.or night terrors since infancy. She is four and still wakes up every single night like clockwork screaming and sometimes very confused. She actually wakes up during the night multiple times. She will do this for months and months than I will get a break from it for a few weeks where she sleeps through the night. I havent seen a night like that in a LONG time and the older she gets the worse her sleep is getting. It affects me greatly I am tired all the time I just hope it doesnt affect her when she starts school this coming school year. The dr said it is rare for a child her age to have night terrors that was when she was 18 months but it wasnt impossible. I wish she would grow out of it. A good nigjts sleep would do wonders for me.

    • Hi Crystal,
      I dont know if you will see this or not, but in your case, I would push for a referral to a pediatric sleep clinic and see what the sleep specialists say. Please talk to your child’s health care team.

    • hi there, we had issues with similar stuff until a friend said that children who are too hot will often nightmare. I always found my son sweaty when he woke with a nightmare but assumed it was the nightmare. We put a bit less on him at night and he immediately stopped nightmarish almost completely. When he very occasionally does now it is usually because he is either very overtired or has pulled up too many blankets. As a firm believer in warmth this was really hard to change my warm habits but it has changed our life! Good luck!

  47. Carrie, you’re well aware, I hope, of how highly i speak of you and your blog. An immeasurable amount of information and Mama support that is irreplaceable!!! SO, when my sweet girl started having nightmares recently, one of the first places I thought I’d look was here. Do you have any further thoughts for a 6.5 year old, very shortly to be 7 (in one month!) haVing nightmares and being fearful for going to sleep at night, often to the point of trembling and tears? I’m at a loss, we’ve talked it through, calmed fears, used a dream catcher, prayed, and many many other things. Any thoughts you coukd spare would be greatly appreciated!!!!!

    Thank you.💛

    • Hi Erin!
      I think that is pretty common. Many children of that age end up sneaking into their parents’ room and sleeping there after they wake up; or starting in their parents’ room to go to sleep. I don’t have any huge suggestions other than the usual – protect from media and adult news that add to angst; make sure there is a lot of physical activity in the day so nighttime is really a time when we are tired for bed; check out any supportive remedies that could be helpful (homeopathics, etc). It will pass, but can be such a hard time.

  48. My 4 year old daughter wakes up in the middle of sleep day or night and she’s pointing something just like she’s searching or something is missing or she want you to do something..and after that she was crying…too long

    • Hi Maybel,
      She may be having nightmares, and I think all you can do in that situation is comfort her and help her get back to sleep. Some children who are really out of it need to be totally woken up and then go back to sleep, some just need to be patted or soothed or rocked and they will drift back to sleep. You find what works just right!
      Glad you are here,

  49. Hi My 8 year old daughter has slept in my bed since birth and I have tried on numerous occasions to get her to sleep in her own bed but she refused to. Now we have got to the point where she will start off in her bed normally going to sleep about 9pm but she wakes up about midnight and gets into my bed, I have tried leaving night lights on for her and hall lights etc but nothing seems to stop this persistent waking up. I do not have a great problem with it as I know one day she will stop doing it eventually however I am worried if there is something wrong with her, if she is needy in some way or insecure. In everyday life she is very intelligent, confident and sporty (Judo and Rugby) so she is mentally and physically active.
    Please help.

    • Hi Dean,
      Thanks for writing in. I honestly think that many children your daughter’s age are like this, the big shift seems to come around nine and half or ten and then they really want their privacy in many ways. This is especially what I have seen with many girls. So I would guess that time will take care of this. In the meantime, some parents have laid out a sleeping bag and told their children if they slide into their rooms at night, they must be quiet and be in the sleeping bag or they will be walked back to their own room. I don’t know as it is really worth the power struggle, since it seems pretty normal from the mail I get, but the sleeping bag can be less disruptive at any rate.
      Hope that helps,

    • TBH I do not have a great problem with it as I know I will miss my cuddles when one day she stops. My main concern was the fact that I have brought my 2 children up on my own for almost 5 years now and just recently my estranged wife has mentioned that she may apply for custody and in the argument that pursued she mentioned that Social services would take a dim view on the fact that both my children climb into bed with me most nights…this cay=used me a little worry and anxiety thinking I should stop them both [particularly my daughter doing this every night however if it is quite common then I am sure I have nothing to worry about. Thank you for your reply.

  50. Hi. I don’t know if this site is still working but I thought I would see if I can get a little help. My 4.5 year old daughter doesn’t sleep through the night. She used to sleep through the night up until she was about 2. And then she began to wake up and come into my room. She doesn’t get in bed with me but she brings her pillow and blanket in and sleeps on the floor by me. We have set a very strict routine with her because we suspect she has autism. We put her to bed at 7 and she is awake until 9 or 10. And then is up and in our room by 12-3 am. And I’m not sure how long she isv awake before falling back to sleep. Some nights she will wake me and say she had a bad dream but other times she won’t. When she wakes up she just looks so dazed and tired. The underneath of her eyes always seem to look purple like she’s not getting enough sleep or not sleeping a at all. I just don’t know what to do to get her more sleep at night. Any help

  51. My grandaughter is nearly 6 2hrs after falling asleep shes shouting no go away i go to her but it seems to make her worse get out i dont need you at the top of her voice once she quietens down i go to her and we hug and she sleeps all night she does suffer with reflux also but remember nothink in the morning is it night tremors or behaviour problems shes my grandaughter that lives with us permantily since she was 10mths old this has been going on for yrs

  52. Hello my wife and I have been trying to get my 4 year old son to even go to sleep. We even put him in our bed. During the week I go to bed about 8-9 pm and get up at 2am for work. My wife trys to get him to lay him down with us and he won’t go to sleep until after midnight. He fights with us about even going to sleep. When he is asleep he sleeps 8-10 hours. Please help.

    • Hi Richard,
      For a four year old with no nap, this time of night is too late. I would suggest moving the time he wakes up in the morning back by half an hour until he is up around seven. Then he will be ready to go to bed earlier. He cannot sleep until 8 or 10 AM and be ready for bed around seven. I would make sure he does not take a long nap but does have a quiet time of rest before 1:30 in the afternoon and then start dinner and get him ready for bed starting around 5 or 5:30 and try to lay down with him by 6:45 each night with a story, a blessing or prayer, and off to sleep. He also needs about 4 hours or more of strong physical activity each day, especially in the morning and early to mid afternoon. Riding bikes, playing outside, running, hiking, climbing. The other thing is to make sure there is not ANY time on screens. If you have to do screens, not in the afternoon! Also, make sure the diet is clean, healthy, whole foods with not a lot of sugar or artificial dyes. That can really impact behavior in many children.
      One book you might consider is the book “The 7 o’clock bedtime” by Scheanen. That might support what I think you are trying to do – move the bedtime back so he will go to sleep without fighting you.
      As an aside, you can also talk to your pediatrician and see if there is any medical reason why he will not go to sleep but in most of these cases I have heard from parents over the years, it has more to do with shortening naps and not having a nap too late, moving the time the child wakes up in the morning back gradually and then moving the bedtime forward, and increasing the amount of physical activity in the day than a medical cause.
      Hope that helps,

    • Thank you. He goes to preschool in the afternoon 4 days a week. Will try your advice thanks.

  53. Hi! I have a 4-year-old daughter who will turn 5 in four months. For her entire life, she has been a wonderful sleeper! We always considered ourselves so lucky! She always went right to bed with no fuss and slept for about 12 hours through the night. She does not nap, but on a rare occasion may fall asleep during naptime at daycare. Over the past two months, we have started having a hard time getting her to stay in bed when we put her down (around 8:30 pm). She tosses and turns in the bed and can take up to three hours to finally fall asleep and stay in bed. She gets up 1-5 times a night after we put her to bed with every excuse she can think of. She is too hot, her covers are messed up, she heard a noise, she can’t find a stuffed animal, and she just doesn’t want to sleep, etc. We always lead her back to bed and tell her not to get up anymore. Then she gets right back up with the next excuse, and often won’t stay in bed until finally one of us gets mad and ends up fussing at her and telling her that she had better not get back out of that bed! We have tried giving her ultimatums, like if she gets up again, she will have to go to bed earlier the next night and things like that, but it doesn’t seem to phase her. My husband and I are at such a loss as to how to get her back to her normal sleep routine. Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

    • Amanda,
      Many four year olds will sleep for eleven hours or so if they do not have a nap, but most are primed for sleep around 7 or 7:30, so you may be missing the window if bedtime is at 8:30 (but that may be a difficult window to make if you are just getting home from work and such!) At four, she may need some help calming down from her day enough to enter sleep, so I would still have some kind of little nighttime routine – do you read to her? What happens after that? Some four and five year olds are happy with a story, having a little snack, checking the blankets/need for more or less covers, a glass of water at the bedside, etc in the same rhythmic order every night. I would try to take all the things she usually asks for and incorporate that into a bedtime routine. If you think fear is playing into it, a nightlight could help some; some parents try a soothing picture from their spiritual or religious beliefs above the bed or on a bedside table. Also, some parents will stay lay down with a four year old until they are asleep, if that child can fall asleep in a reasonable time. If not, perhaps having a little bit of time to play and then getting into bed at the same time after reading/snack would work. You will have to tinker with it, and you know your daughter best! Your little one is coming up on five, and five to five and a half does usually bring about a lot of changes, so that might something to consider as well…here is a back post about five year olds:
      Hope that helps,

  54. My eight year old is having problems with sleeping Patten we send him bad at seven he watched tv till he falls asleep thing is if we turn it off he kicks off he in an out of bed eats all the time when we send him bed after he eat most of day but always wanting crap then when he does go sleep about 1am he wakes again about 3 to 4 then falls bk sleep wanting me to be with him trying to get in bed with me and my partner now is affecting our relationship just don’t no what to do we tried cams that said it ain’t a mental issuer can some one help

    • Hayley,
      Do you have a health care professional – a pediatrician, a school nurse, someone that you can talk to in person? Diet and screen time are two things that truly impact sleep. He may also need to be looked at for things such as sleep apnea or other medical challenges. The first thing that may be of help is to contact a health care person to look at his sleep in person. Many larger cities even have pediatric sleep clinics. The first step is your pediatrician.
      Hope you all can get some rest!

  55. Hi Carrie
    My daughter is 11, turning 12 in July. We co-slept, I thought she would never sleep in her own bed, and she eventually did and even stopped coming into my bed around age 9 as you mentioned. I have a question about our bedtime routine now. My husband and I read to her and then lay with her for a while. Sometimes she is asleep when we leave, sometimes awake-ish, and then she sleeps through the night. I have been relishing this time because I feel it will be coming to an end sooner than later naturally, when she is ready.
    With that said, some people are saying that we are doing it more for ourselves than for her, and that we are actually doing her a disservice by not just giving her a kiss goodnight and leaving, that we are not teaching her independence, etc… I seem to remember people saying that when we didn’t sleep train her either.
    I also want to say that she enjoys sleepovers with her cousins and close friends, so she does go to sleep without us. When we are home though, she prefers to be with us.
    I would appreciate your thoughts….

  56. Hi I noticed a few.comments about little ones putting their feet under you etc. My son has done this sine he was like 2. He is now 5. We cosleep because our living arrangements are tight. I just didnt know if this was normal.for him to still do? Will he ever grow out.of it? Sometimes it hurts and I have to tell him to stop. Which lasts like a second lol. But I noticed tonight my one year old moves her.feet alot too when shes


    • Hi Amanda!
      I think it can be totally normal for some children, depending upon how hot or cold they run when they sleep. So I don’t know as he ever will grow out of it. Maybe warmth will be an important consideration for him when he does make the transition to sleeping alone at some point — or maybe his future partner will enjoy a snuggly person 🙂 LOL.

  57. My children both co-slept and have never had trouble sleeping . I on the other hand wake up with a foot in my side frequently

  58. Thank you for this post. It has given me a different perspective in terms of how age may affect sleep in children, and has calmed me down a little as such.

    My nine y.o. has been having trouble going to sleep for the past week. She has been going to the toilet three or four times before going to bed, and the says she’s worried her bladder will burst of she doesn’t. She says she can’t sleep, and tonight has taken two hours to finally fall asleep. I’m not certain whether there’s an emotional/psychological issue that I’m not being sensitive to, or whether this does indeed relate to the nine-year change, or whether she just wants to stay awake because I’m awake. Parenting certainly isn’t for sissies…

  59. I have a 9yr old. She was a co sleeper up until preschool age. She did well sleeping on her own, unless she was sick. She still Co sleeps at my parents, cause they don’t have a bed for her. We moved 2 years ago and her and I had some night time anxiety (me more then her, mine was during the day too). She has improved greatly and me some also. Now she is wanting to stay awake and put off sleeping, especially when we go to bed early, because of work. I don’t want her to be afraid ( like me) to sleep by herself. We have night lights everywhere but my room and we have talked to her and had her tell us what’s wrong. How can I get her to go and stay asleep in her room?

    • Hi Rebekah,
      Perhaps you will get some answer from other mothers on here, but I don’t think nine is a particularly uncommon age to have nightmares, not want to sleep, feel afraid. This usually seems to improve after age ten. So, I guess my first thought is decide if this is worth pushing. She had an anxious transition with your move, as you did, and it may take time. Some parents are satisfied with putting a sleeping bed down on the floor and saying that is fine. I think the other thing is to decide how much you want to talk about it. I would try to go for the reassuring tact – “when you are ready, I know you can do this” sort of tact rather than being focused on the fear part of it. “Many children feel this way, but I know as you go along you will be ready to be in your own room”, etc. Without a lot of pressure, just letting her know you support where she is and what you know the ultimate goal will be. I would help her decorate her room in a way that makes it feel comfortable and sleep- inducing (ie, calming, not cluttered and full of junk everywhere). I would also make sure she is getting plenty of sunshine during the day and physical activity. Getting up at the same time everyday helps the rhythm of going to bed and being sleepy at night as well. Any screen time should be eliminated or at least turned off at least two hours or more before bedtime.
      Hope that helps; it will come.

  60. My four year old has never been a great sleeper but these past two weeks have been a joke. She will constantly fight us when going to bed then wake up countless times in the night. We are very sleep deprived, I work nights as it is and it’s beginning to take its toll. We’ve tried everything we can possibly think of. She’s 5 in January. In the meantime her two year old brother sleeps for England!!

  61. I have been with my new partner now for just over 5momths now and I am worried about his 9 year old daughter. My partner has been divorced from his daughters mum now for 10 years now and I have been getting on really well with his kids and but his 9 year old daughter since the 24th December 2016 has not been sleeping properly she will wake up any were from the just before 1 in the morning then is just about awake until about 7them here bother and sister wake her up again at around 7_8ish and she had also started wetting not only her bed but when she’s up and about can you go us some help with what we should do about it
    Thank you a very worried step more

    • Hi Shirley,
      Since you mention the bed wetting and also during the day, I would first go to a pediatrician to rule out a urinary tract infection. Anxiety can also loom around the holidays, even for children, so I would see how she is feeling mentally. Sometimes small children cannot really tell us in words, but they show us in their actions or just in what happens. Playing with her and seeing if she is cheerful or worried through doll play may be helpful. But pediatrician first.
      Secondly, holidays do have a way of getting sleep very off. So, I would try – NO screens or media. NONE. It disrupts sleep. Go back to quiet time after lunch. Long walks or bike rides or playing in the snow in the afternoon as a family, warming dinner, a warm bath with Epsom salts, stories and bedtime. See if that does the trick. It may take a few days to get her sleep back on track because for 6 days she has been up for 6 hours a night.
      I hope that helps, and I love that you are caring for these children as your own. Wishing you much joy in 2017,

  62. My daughter is 7.5. She is loud and happy most the time. But she will fall asleep just after getting homw from school around 4:15 on sleep time 7 pm get up eat (somethimes) then back to sleep till 6am and is tired and crabby when woken in am. Is this normal ?

    • Hi Renee,
      I am not a sleep specialist so I can’t say for sure, but I would ask your pediatrician. That does seem rather tired for a 7.5 year old after a day of school from what I am hearing from readers who have 7.5 year olds. Does she have any medical conditions? Do your daughter’s friends or classmates fall asleep like that after school?

  63. So my 5 year old girl wont sleep at night… It been like 2 weeks… What can i do to change to change her sleeping habits. …i really need help i have to get up for work at 4 am my baby girl is still up… I really need some rest since am a mother of 6 am always. Drained out… Its not like i can get home from work and rest… Any tips here plz.

    • Hi Worried Mom,
      Since it has been two weeks, I am wondering about physical causes — ear infection, needs to use bathroom/constipated, six year molars coming in? If there are no physical causes you can discern, is she scared? Is she getting enough exercise, is she eating whole and healthy food and enough water? I would cut out ALL screens until this resolves – NO TV, video games, hand held screens, computers at all. What time is she up in the morning? Has something changed or been really stressful to her? Is she falling asleep but then wakes up and is awake much of the night, or is she literally not going to bed and staying awake until 4? I don’t know where she sleeps, but sometimes just having your presence means both of you can sleep. It seems very odd to me that a 5 year old is awake all night long. If this persists, I would speak with a medical professional.

  64. I have a 6 year old boy who recently has just started only at bedtime he does this he’ll go to the bathroom little brother oh go to the bathroom then he wants to go back to the bathroom again who go upstairs and wants to go to the bathroom and back and forth to the bathroom one before he always went to the bathroom at bedtime and was fine and he’s screaming and throwing fits is this normal I do have a doctor’s appointment to address this issue but I’m not sure what to do about this

    • Hi Michele,
      I would check with your pediatrician to rule out urinary tract infection or anything else, but it sounds fairly normal to me. He may be scared of the dark or something else. Six can be a year of fears with going to bed – monsters, the dark, etc. He may also be overtired; I find many six year olds are simply going to bed much too late and are overtired and cannot settle. Dim lighting or a night light, a soothing routine, a cup of warm herbal tea or warm milk, a little blanket or special animal may all help so long as any physical problem has been ruled out.
      Hope that helps,

  65. My recently turned 7 year has been for the better part of the past year been waking up several nights a week around 1-2am running down out hallway crying and doing a “pee-pee” dance. She passes her bathroom to get to us and we’ll jump out of bed telling her to go into bathroom. Sometimes she’ll listen and go in and we’ll also go in to calm in and walk her back to bed. Other times she won’t go in bathroom until we almost force her in. It’s odd and a bit frustrating, but she says she doesn’t remember doing it. We don’t know how to handle this. Any thoughts/suggestions/insight?

    • Hi Vincent!
      Yes, actually I do….this is super common at 7 years old, even up through seven and a half. It usually happens around 2 AM and unfortunately if it isn’t having to use the bathroom, it is usually nightmares. The going to the bathroom part is usually coupled with a fear of the dark, monster, or the hallway, which makes it challenging for the 7 year old to just get up and go to the bathroom in the middle of the night like a 10 year old will do. So, I would experiment with lights in the hallway to the bathroom and the bathroom itself, maybe a dimmer switch? I would also go back and experiment with white noise for the bedroom and see if that lessens the wakening up and also limit water at bedtime and of course, making sure she goes to the bathroom before she goes to bed. I know it is super frustrating, but you are doing all the right things and she will grow out of it. Oh, seven!

  66. Hello I have a girlfriend which has,a,son with special needs wakes up to get in the bed with her every night but sleeps with his leg wrapped around her from the back of her is this normal for a mother and son and he’s ten yes.old

    • Hi Smilez,
      Special needs can cover a wide range of cognitive or physical impairments. I doubt there have been any studies on this. I think more importantly, the implication in your post is that you are feeling uncomfortable with this. Is your girlfriend open to working on a change? Some parents will use a pillow in between, a mattress on the floor, or a sleeping bag on the floor. Perhaps you would like to talk to your girlfriend about it. Depending upon his cognitive level and just habit of doing this for many years, it could just be what has always happened. Usually ten year olds sleep better, nine can be a real height of nightmares and waking up. So I guess the question is how to deal with the waking up ( and if he has special needs he could have legitimate needs for waking up) and how you and your partner could work gently and lovingly toward a new situation that works for all of you as a family.

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